In my last installment we learned about the various buildings on the current site of Fayetteville City Hall from 1855 through 2018. The city has purchased land in town to build a new city hall in the next couple years and we all hope good use is made of the current building. Built about 1940 all asbestos has been removed and the city has kept it in good repair for the 19 years is has occupied it.
Margaret Mitchell, Scarlett O’Hara, and the Fitzgeralds were briefly mentioned last time. Let’s concentrate on them today.
Margaret Mitchell was born in 1900 in Atlanta and reared there. She was always aware of her ancestors, where they were born and settled, and where some of them currently lived during her lifetime.
Her great-great-grandfather was Philip Fitzgerald who came to the United States from Ireland in 1835 and ended up in Fayette County. Fayette County as laid out in 1821 extended as far north as Atlanta is today, as far east as the other side of present Jonesboro and as far south as present north Spalding County. This grandfather owned businesses in Fayetteville and his home place, called “Rural Home” was down the present McDonough Road where the Thames Dairy farm is located. It was Fayette County at that time.
Miss Mitchell would often spend her summers visiting “Rural Home” (it had become Clayton County by then) and hearing her relatives stories of “The War Between The States” as some of that war came nearby them.
She also learned that a daughter of Philip Fitzgerald had come to school in Fayetteville. This was her Aunt Anne Elizabeth Fitzgerald who would be brought into Fayetteville by wagon on Sunday afternoons and brought back home by wagon on Friday afternoon.
The school was The Fayetteville Academy but as we know, when Margaret Mitchell penned “Gone With The Wind” it became “The Fayetteville Female Academy.” Trust me here folks, it never was in reality.
Comes the next question – where did she board? Tradition has come down through time she would board at the Bennett house. It’s across the road and is rather “roomy.” In all honesty, we have no written proof but it does make sense. Anyhow, I buy it. By the way, the house is still there.
If you open “Gone With The Wind” to the bottom of page 4 one finds “Stuart and Brent (the Tarleton twins) considered their latest expulsion a fine joke, and Scarlett, who had not willingly opened a book since leaving the Fayetteville Female Academy the year before, thought it just as amusing as they did.”
And now you have the actual, factual history of the site of the Fayetteville City Hall going back to 1855 and its part in a made-up story in a famous book. At the time the book came out in 1936 only the Bible sold more copies.